Heart rate is the speed of the heartbeat measured by the number of contractions of the heart per minute (bpm). The heart rate can vary according to the body's physical needs, including the need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide. It is usually equal or close to the pulse measured at any peripheral point. Activities that can provoke change include physical exercise, sleep, anxiety, stress, illness, and ingestion of drugs.
The normal resting adult human heart rate ranges from 60–100 bpm.
Tachycardia is a fast heart rate, defined as above 100 bpm at rest.
Bradycardia is a slow heart rate, defined as below 60 bpm at rest. During sleep a slow heartbeat with rates around 40–50 bpm is common and is considered normal. When the heart is not beating in a regular pattern, this is referred to as an arrhythmia. These abnormalities of heart rate sometimes indicate disease.
Autonomic impairment, as measured by heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity, is significantly associated with increased mortality after traumatic brain injury. These effects, though partially interlinked, seem to be independent of age, trauma severity, intracranial pressure, or autoregulatory status, and thus represent a discrete phenomenon in the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury. Continuous measurements of heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity in the neuromonitoring setting of severe traumatic brain injury may carry novel pathophysiological and predictive information 1).